Arresting Documents Reveal New Details In 7-Year-Old Heber Girl’s Death
Jul 11, 2021, 8:04 PM | Updated: Jul 13, 2023, 3:57 pm
HEBER CITY, Utah — New details have been released in the deadly shooting of a 7-year-old girl from Heber City.
It appears everything started with a night of heavy drinking and a man carelessly waving a gun, who should not have had one in the first place.
Arresting documents for the three individuals taken into custody indicate drugs, alcohol and prescription medication may have played a part in Friday night’s events.
On Sunday, Wasatch County Sheriff’s deputies announced the arrest of 21-year-old Trever Joe Pinter, 36-year-old Colin David Howells and 34-year-old Christopher Robert O’Connell in connection to the death of Zaydanielys Rodriguez Irizarry.
Potential charges indicate O’Connell is being viewed as the prime suspect. He was booked into jail for suspicion of manslaughter and multiple other drug and weapons-related charges.
#BREAKING: Deputies officially ID 3 men arrested in connection to shooting death of 7yo Zaydanielys Rodriguez, of Heber. Prime suspect Christopher O'Connell (pic1) remains in jail. Colin Howells (pic2) & Trever Pinter (pic3) were released on bail. See Below: @KSL5TV pic.twitter.com/erM7j1GJps
— Garna Mejia (@GarnaMejiaKSL) July 11, 2021
Deputies suspect O’Connell discharged the gun in Howells’ bedroom, where they found a bullet hole that went through a wall and into Zaydanielys’ room.
“I heard (from deputies) that it was my neighbor,” said Zaydanielys father, Daniel Rodriguez. “I heard that he was drunk or something and had controlled substances and a bullet was fired. It went from his room into mine. That’s what (deputies told me) happened.
While a father grieved at the hospital, Wasatch County Sheriff’s deputies worked to understand how the 7-year-old was shot while sleeping in her room around 10:30 p.m. Friday.
Investigating deputies at the Wasatch Commons Apartments, located at 2790 North Commons Boulevard in Heber City, said they heard a gunshot from a neighboring apartment upon their arrival.
That’s when deputies found and arrested three intoxicated people.
Arresting documents identified the three men as 21-year-old Trever Joe Pinter, 36-year-old Colin David Howells and 34-year-old Christopher Robert O’Connell, with O’Connell as the prime suspect.
Deputies said O’Connell and Howells admitted to mixing alcohol and prescription medication on Friday evening.
Then, arresting documents indicate the pair went to Pinter’s neighboring apartment. Pinter told deputies the men knocked loudly on his door, apartment 207, between 10 and 11 p.m.
During the visit, Pinter’s girlfriend, identified as “Ashlee,” and her friend “Aspen” allege an “incredibly intoxicated” O’Connell pulled out and waved a firearm.
The women also told deputies the two men, O’Connell and Howells, sexually assaulted them.
“I was informed Christopher was grabbing one female’s buttocks and grinding on her,” deputies wrote in arresting documents.
At some point, deputies believe O’Connell and Howells left Pinter’s apartment.
Pinter would later tell deputies the men “stayed at his apartment for 30-60 minutes and they never left.” Pinter also told deputies he did not see the men in possession of a firearm, but deputies allege this was a lie. Pinter retracted both statements after detectives confronted him with the women’s testimonies.
“I also determined Colin and Christopher left the apartment during the time he stated they were all together,” deputies wrote.
During the investigation, detectives said they found a shot fired from apartment #205, which is next door to the Rodriguez family apartment.
Arresting documents indicate, “They located a bullet hole that had gone through the wall and bedroom of Colin… continued north through the residence and into the next apartment complex and into the child.”
Deputies suspect the shot was fired by O’Connell as a witness saw him holding a gun after the shooting and deputies “observed what appeared to be a firearm near his belt line and protruding from his t-shirt.”
A witness, identified by Danny Rodriguez as his roommate, allegedly told detectives two men, fitting the descriptions of Howells and O’Connell, were looking into the apartment shortly after Zaydanielys was rushed to the hospital.
“They began to ask the witness about who the kids belong to and who he was. He stated the tall skinny one with blue eyes had his foot placed in the doorway so the door could not close. He also stated he observed the other male holding a firearm in his hand as they spoke,” read the arresting documents.
Deputies have asked anyone who witness suspicious activity at the apartments on Friday night to contact them.
In addition to manslaughter, O’Connell could be facing a charge for having a gun as a restricted person.
O’Connell and Howells have a history with alcoholism.
O’Connell has been convicted at least three times for driving under the influence. Court documents indicate Park City Police arrested him for DUI in June of 2016. They also reported he was previously convicted for DUI in Massachusetts in 2008 and 2010.
Howells once assaulted an officer breaking his glasses while drunk.
Howells was convicted in 2016 for the drunken incident on New Year’s Eve in Iron County. Howells subsequently wrote apology letters, documented by the court, to his girlfriend’s family and Brian Head Police Department.
“I also want to apologize to the officer in which I broke his glasses. I do not have a violent bone in my body but alcohol turned me into someone else,” Howells wrote.
Pinter could face an obstruction of justice charge for lying about O’Connell having a gun.
Howells and Pinter have been released on bail, according to a press release update Sunday from Sheriff Jared Rigby with the Wasatch County Sheriff’s Office.
The individuals arrested and their corresponding charges are as follows:
- Christopher R. O’Connell
- Manslaughter (2nd degree felony)
- Possession of a Dangerous Weapon by Restricted person (2nd degree felony)
- Possession of a Controlled Substance (Class B Misdemeanor)
- Carrying a Weapon while Intoxicated (Class B Misdemeanor)
- Intoxication (Class C Misdemeanor)
- Being held without bail
- Colin D. Howells
- Sexual Battery (Class A Misdemeanor)
- Intoxication (C Misdemeanor)
- Judge set bail at $2,000
- He paid and was released
- Trevor J. Pinter
- Obstructing Justice (3rd degree felony)
- Judge set bail at $1,500
- He paid and was released
The Wasatch County School District also released a statement Sunday to express their condolences and provide information on resources being made available to students and staff.
The statement read:
“To Our Community:
We were deeply saddened to learn of the tragic passing of one of our J.R. Smith Elementary School students on Friday night. Counseling and grief support services are available to students and staff during this difficult time. Our thoughts and prayers are with the student’s family. We also offer our condolences to the J.R. Smith Elementary School community.
If you have concerns about your child’s reaction to this loss, please reach out to the District Offices at 435-654-0280.”